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What is the BIG POLICY idea?

Posted: Sun, 17 Feb 2019 17:21

What is the BIG POLICY idea?

What is the 'Big' sport and physical activity policy that would create a seismic shift in levels of physical activity and sport in the UK?

It was a good question asked by my good friend Nick Pontefract - formerly the Head of Sport at DCMS and now COO at Sport England.

The question is not as obvious as it sounds. Quite rightly Nick asked us all to think of the equivalent of the policy 'Big Idea' on the scale of the Universal Basic Income - a genuinely transformative, generational game changer? All too often those of us involved in Policy making can concentrate on the here and now and how to get through the next Spending review, Budget, Government Strategy or Manifesto. These are not bad things to do but they miss lifting the horizon to these much bigger ideas that will transform the landscape. Some of the responses to Nick's tweet were helpful but fell into this category. Merely tweaks and changes in emphasis within the current structures. Given the scale of the problem we can't expect tweaks to change society and our activity levels. There is something more radical needed.

In the past when we have put out these please for crowd sourcing policy ideas and transformative thinking across the sector the response has been rather underwhelming if I am being honest. All too often it's a minor tweak here and there on some tried and tested ideas or a call for more budget for a specific interventions. All very laudable but can we stretch our imaginations to dream of a bigger goal.

There is plenty of innovation and enterprise happening in sport and physical activity and some of the interventions have been at scale and made some dents on activity levels for some people in some areas. There is little on the wish lists of most of the organisations we come into contact with that meet the grand challenge that nick is putting down for us. Many people now understand about the need to focus on what people want and not just delivering more of the same. The customer focus is important and needs to be at the heart of what we do.

But first we need to understand and agree what 'problem' we are trying to solve and what success would look like! I think this bit is easy to understand. So what next? Well posing the question is the start. Seeking views and opinions and especially from those outside the sector will be vital. At the Think Tank we love working in other 'sectors' to see how they solve problems.

So what are your thoughts? How do we start to grapple with the issue with a completely new solution and approach.

We will start here for a month gathering discussions and then move to something more structured. At the Think Tank we are not constrained by representing any part of the sector in their interests. We just know there still remains a fundamental problem with the way society has squeezed out physical activity from our daily lives and that sport and PA are still not a government wide priority. Perhaps this is one of the problems - the lobby coming from producer interests?

And most importantly we want people from outside our sector to help lead the thinking. We have enormous 'Grand Challenges' as the government's own industrial strategy identifies. What are ours across the sector?

It's over to you! Thoughts and ideas. What is THE BIG Policy idea that will create a seismic shift in policy that we can all sign up to and work towards.

Tags: Sports Policy, Featured, DCMS, sport policy, Sports Think Tank, Sport England, Uksport, sport, Dfe, school sport